UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has promised to spend billions of pounds improving rural broadband and 4G mobile phone coverage following Brexit after saying it was “ridiculous that you can get better mobile phone coverage in Kenya than in parts of Kent”.
Mr Gove has told farmers repeatedly that the £3 billion they receive in annual EU subsidies would be given to those who improve the environment, build natural flood defences and repair the soil.
He has added that rural connectivity was a clear “public good” that deserved public money as much as other critical infrastructure projects, saying that fast internet and 4G mobile coverage were as essential as clean drinking water and mains electricity.
The £2 billion cost of transforming rural broadband would come from money formerly disbursed by the EU.
Speaking to the National Farmers’ Union annual conference in Birmingham, Mr Gove said: “It’s unjustifiable that in the country that first guaranteed universal mail provision, which invented the telephone, the television and pioneered the world wide web, that broadband provision is so patchy and poor in so many areas.”